Volume 9 Issue 1 • March 25th, 2013

In This Issue ...


The CCA on antimicrobial resistance

Last week a policy paper was released by the Ontario Medical Association on the contribution of inappropriate use of antibiotics to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The report strongly implied that antibiotic use in livestock is a major contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in humans. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) and Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) would like to make the public aware that the report included several misconceptions and myths about beef cattle and AMR.

The CCA and BCRC recognize the necessity for human health drugs to continue to be effective. To assist with responsible drug use in beef cattle production, the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program was developed and provides industry-sanctioned practices. The program is part of an extensive effort by Canada's food providers to ensure on-farm food safety.

Responsible antimicrobial use plays an important role in the VBP program. This includes following veterinarian and label recommendations to use the right product to treat the right condition, and following the correct route of administration, dose and withdrawal time. The program recommends producers follow label instructions and confer with local, municipal or provincial guidelines on proper disposal procedures for outdated products and empty containers.

The biggest concern with antimicrobial resistance pertains to drugs that are of "Very High Importance" in human health, which are used to treat very serious human infections. The Canadian beef industry has supported a number of research projects studying this issue since the late 1990's. One such study funded through the BCRC found that drugs that are most important for human health are rarely used by the Canadian beef industry. Conversely, the drugs that are used most widely by the Canadian beef industry are never used in human medicine. These results are summarized in the Table below.

Frequency with which antimicrobial drugs categorized as Very High, High, Medium and Low importance to human health are sold to humans and used in cattle production.
  Drug sales for human use in Canada1 Drug use in cattle in Canada2
Very High Importance 17% 0.06%
High Importance 66.3% 0.54%
Medium Importance 16.8% 8.79%
Low Importance 0% 90.6%
  1. Data from the most recent (2008) annual report of the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance.
  2. Data collected from research funded by the National Check-Off through the BCRC, and led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the PHAC with samples collected by Feedlot Health Management Services.

Furthermore, the study showed that resistance to drugs of "Very High Importance" in human health is below one per cent, and below 2.5 per cent to "High Importance" antimicrobials, those of intermediate concern in human medicine. In addition, the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) has found that resistance to drugs of "Very High Importance" is extremely low in healthy cattle entering Canadian processing plants (below one per cent) as well as retail beef (below two per cent).

Research and surveillance evidence suggests that eliminating antimicrobial use in beef production will have clear negative health consequences for cattle with no obvious benefit for human health.

Research proposed under the second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster will compare the precise genetic fingerprint of AMR bacteria isolated from cattle with AMR bacteria isolated from sick people to see if the genetic origin is the same. This will not determine whether resistance is traveling from cattle to humans (or vice-versa), but should indicate whether they are related.

The CCA and BCRC strongly support the PHAC's AMR surveillance efforts and activities through CIPARS. For more information on AMR related to beef cattle production, visit http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/antimicrobial-resistance-11


CCA changes industry representation

The CCA has updated the numbers it uses to indicate representation of the Canadian cattle industry based on the 2011 Census of Agriculture. In the interest of clarity, the CCA is now using the number of farms reporting beef cattle, which includes feedlots, as its representation in place of the traditional number of producers. In that respect, the CCA represents 63,500 beef farms and feedlots.

The reason for the change has to do with the way mixed farms are defined in the Census of Agriculture. Mixed farms are categorized as either beef or grain based on farm income (whichever is >50 per cent) but markets can skew those results and in turn impact producer numbers. The CCA feels the representation by farms reporting beef cattle provides the most accurate reflection of the industry.

Note there can be multiple operators for every operation and in terms of feedlots multiple employees for every operation reporting and therefore the 63,500 farms represents many more individuals who depend on the beef industry for their income.


Market Power Study update

Canfax Market Briefs

Canfax Research Services, with support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, recently completed a research project aimed at updating and expanding upon the 2006 Market Power study by Drs. Jeffrey Church and Daniel Gordon of the University of Calgary. The objectives of the new study were to a) examine the changes in market power since the U.S. border re-opened to live cattle in mid-2005; b) estimate the extent of income transfer from feedlot producers to packers; and c) evaluate alternative mechanisms to facilitate effective market surveillance. A summary of the report can be found at: http://www.cattle.ca/cca-industry-analysis.

In brief, Phase 1 found that:

Phase II found that:

Phase III found that:

In summation, there is no clear answer on the best way to monitor market power in the Canadian packing sector, with U.S. packers playing a critical role in the Canadian market. It is encouraged that all producers report prices to Canfax to ensure data accuracy for the Canadian industry. Fed cattle prices are reported Freight on Board the feedlot, with average cash prices typically being close to the base price producers receive on grid cattle.


Spotting the difference between footrot and other types of lameness

The word 'footrot' is often mistakenly used to refer to many types of lameness in cattle. Footrot is a bacterial infection between the two claws of the foot. It is typically caused by the Fusobacterium necrophorum bacterium, which invades damaged or injured feet. Because footrot is a bacterial infection to the fleshy part of the foot, this type of lameness can be treated with antibiotics.

There are several different types of lameness, many of which cannot be treated with antibiotics. Whenever possible, producers should closely inspect the feet to determine the type of lameness in order to choose the appropriate treatment. An improper diagnosis can lead to unnecessary administration of antimicrobials, prolonged discomfort to the animal and increasing loss of production. If a lame animal does not improve with antibiotics, it does not have footrot.  Continue reading and watch video…


CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Brenna Grant, Tracy Sakatch
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Matthew French

To sign up for CCA's “Action News:”
Visit www.cattle.ca and click on “Sign-up for Action News.”

For more information, contact:

CCA Communications at feedback@cattle.ca or visit our website at www.cattle.ca

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for Canada's beef cattle industry, representing 63,500 beef farms.

Head office:
Ste. 310, 6715 8th Street NE, Calgary, AB   T2E 7H7
Phone: 403.275.8558   Fax: 403.274.5686

Ottawa office:
1207, 350 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON   K1R 7S8
Phone: 613.233.9375   Fax: 613.233.2860